Today’s class discussion about feminism made me reflect on what feminism means to me. I’m an international student from Sweden, which is one of the most gender equal countries in the world (Swedish men have paternity leave, Swedish women make up almost half of the political representatives in the Swedish Parliament, and nearly two-thirds of all university degrees in Sweden are awarded to women.) Although I grew up in this feminist and gender equal culture, I never took my rights as a woman for granted. Why? Because I acknowledge that there was a time in history when women were deprived of the rights to go to school, have a job, and vote. And sadly enough, this suppression still exists in many parts of the world.
In the video of Joseph Gordon-Levitt talking about feminism, he mentioned a website called “Women Against Feminism.” This title sounded extremely bizarre to me so I couldn’t help but checking it out. Apparently, it’s a website where women can post pictures of themselves holding placards explaining why they don’t need feminism.
Here are some pictures of from womenagainstfeminism.com:
Not only do these women have great misconceptions of what feminism actually entails, they’re also extremely self-centered because they assume that feminism just applies to them. I also find them to be ignorant because they’re essentially oppressing themselves. What these women fail to understand is that they are liberated and can voice their opinions because strong and brave women of past generations fought for their rights to do so. Feminism is the reason they can post pictures of themselves holding those placards in the first place.
Let me give you a (hypothetical) background story to the women pictured above and on womenagainstfeminism.com: They are predominantly white Western women living in America or Europe. They have some degree of education, which has taught them how to read, write, count, and think critically. They have fulltime or part-time jobs, which allow them to pay rent or mortgages for their houses or apartments. They probably own cars and driver’s licenses, which allow them to travel freely. They can vote and have a girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband of their choice. They can spend their free time hanging out with people of the opposite sex, drink alcohol, go to clubs, and sleep with whomever they want.
Now, imagine a young girl in Mali who underwent female genital mutilation against her will; or a woman in Yemen who can’t leave the house or travel without her husband’s permission; or a 9-year-old girl in Syria who is marrying an ISIS fighter; or a woman in Pakistan who was gang-raped as a punishment for her brother’s crime; or a girl in Ivory Coast who is raised to run the household instead of going to school. The list can go on and on…
When thinking about these scenarios, which unfortunately are very real, there’s no wonder why the anti-Feminism women can write ignorant statements like, “I don’t need feminism because I am not a victim” or “I don’t need feminism because my husband and I respect each other.” They may not need feminism to the same degree or in the same ways as other women, but that just means that feminism has already worked in their favor. In other words: Good for you! I think it’s important to remember that feminism (and other movements for that matter) doesn’t always apply strictly to ourselves. When we find it hard to identify with or relate to a movement, we should think about the ways it can benefit others and how we can use our Western privilege to stand up for people (in this case women) who can’t fight for themselves.
My question is: What are your thoughts on the website “Women Against Feminism” (Link: http://womenagainstfeminism.com/)